Ziprasidone

Sounds like 'zi-PRAS-i-done'

Easy-to-read medicine information about ziprasidone – what it is, how to take it safely and possible side effects. Ziprasidone is commonly called Zusdone or Zeldox.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Antipsychotic
  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as atypical antipsychotics 
  • Zusdone®
  • Zeldox®

What is ziprasidone?

Ziprasidone is used to treat some types of mental illness such as schizophrenia, mania and agitation in psychosis. It does not cure these conditions but is used to help ease the symptoms and help you on your recovery path. It can help improve symptoms such as the experience of hearing voices (hallucinations), ideas that distress you and don't seem to be based in reality (delusions) and difficulty in thinking clearly (thought disorder). 

Ziprasidone
 belongs to a group of medicines called antipsychotics. Read more about 
antipsychotic medication. 

In New Zealand, ziprasidone is available as capsules. Ziprasidone capsules are available in different strengths. If your capsules look different to your last supply, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Dose

  • The usual dose of ziprasidone is 40 milligrams twice a day.
  • Some people may require higher doses of up to 80 milligrams twice a day.
  • Always take your ziprasidone exactly as your doctor has told you.
  • The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much ziprasidone to take, how often to take it and any special instructions.

How to take ziprasidone

  • Timing: Take ziprasidone twice a day, in the morning and evening. Try taking your ziprasidone doses at the same times each day. It is best to take ziprasidone with food or just after food. Taking your capsule with food helps make it work better.
  • Swallow the capsules whole, with a glass of water. Do not open the capsules. If you have problems swallowing ziprasidone capsules, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Read more about tips for swallowing tablets and capsules.  
  • Missed dose: If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. But if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
  • Effects are not immediate. You may feel that ziprasidone is not working for you straight away. Keep taking ziprasidone every day. It usually takes a few weeks to start working and it can take a few months before you feel the full benefits.
  • Keep taking ziprasidone regularly. Do not stop taking ziprasidone suddenly as your symptoms may return if stopped too early. Talk to your doctor or nurse before stopping.

Precautions – before starting ziprasidone

  • Do you have any heart problems such as an irregular heartbeat, heart failure or low blood pressure?
  • Have you recently had a heart attack?
  • Do you have Parkinson’s, dementia or epilepsy?
  • Do you have diabetes or problems with high cholesterol?
  • Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • Do you have problems with your prostate?
  • Are you taking any other medicines, including medicines you can buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines?

If so it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start ziprasidone. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care that your pharmacist will tell you about.

Precautions – while taking ziprasidone

  • Alcohol: Avoid alcohol while you are taking ziprasidone, especially when you first start treatment. Drinking alcohol while taking ziprasidone can cause drowsiness and affect concentration, putting you at risk of falls and other accidents. It can also cause agitation, aggression and forgetfulness. If you do drink alcohol, drink only small amounts and see how you feel. Do not stop taking your medicine.
  • Weight: Let your doctor know if you put on a lot of weight, especially when you first start taking ziprasidone. Read more about medicines and weight gain.
  • Blood tests and other monitoring: Ziprasidone may cause changes in your blood glucose level, cholesterol level and heart function. To keep an eye out for these effects, your doctor will check your physical health and weigh you regularly. You may also need to have blood tests to check your kidneys, liver, cholesterol and glucose levels. You may also have your blood pressure measured and an ECG test to check your heart rate.

Side effects

Like all medicines, ziprasidone can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Feeling sleepy, drowsy or tired
  • This can last a few hours after the dose.
  • Don’t drive or operate machinery.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Feeling shaky and restless (can't sit still)
  • Eyes or tongue move on their own
  • This is a well-known side effect and it's not dangerous.
  • If it bothers you, tell your doctor.
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Try not to stand up too quickly as you are at risk of falling. 
  • Try and lie or sit down if you feel it coming on.
  • Don't drive when feeling dizzy.
 
  • Problems falling asleep or staying asleep (insomnia)
 
  • Tell your doctor if this becomes a problem.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take your medicine at a different time or reduce the dose.
  • Feeling like your heart is racing
  • Feeling too hot or too cold
  • Tell your doctor.
  • Weight gain
  • A diet full of vegetables and fibre may help prevent weight gain.
  • Limit sugary or fatty foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Talk to your doctor.
  • Muscle weakness
  • Talk to your doctor.  
  • It should wear off after a couple of weeks.
  • Feeling anxious or nervous (being more on edge)
  • Try and relax by taking slow, deep breaths.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes.

Interactions

Ziprasidone interacts with many other medicines and herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting ziprasidone and before starting any new medicines.

Learn more

The following links have more information on ziprasidone:

Med-ucation – benefits & side effects Talking Minds, NZ 
Zeldox Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ

References

  1. Ziprasidone NZ Formulary
  2. Antipsychotic drugs NZ Formulary
  3. Prescribing atypical antipsychotics in general practice BPAC, NZ, 2011
  4. Managing patients with dementia: What is the role of antipsychotics? BPAC, NZ, 2013
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 17 Dec 2020